Colombia’s Health Reform: Petro’s Persistent Push for Change

 President Gustavo Petro remains steadfast in advocating for his controversial health reform in Colombia, aiming for a preventive care system and nationwide medical outreach.

Gustavo Petro

Photo: Gustavo Petro

Latin American Post Staff

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Leer en español: La reforma sanitaria de Colombia: el persistente impulso del Petro por el cambio

Colombian President Gustavo Petro's Commitment

Colombian President Gustavo Petro reaffirmed his commitment this Sunday to persistently advocate for his controversial health reform, emphasizing its goal to establish a preventive healthcare system with primary care centers and medical teams visiting homes nationwide.

Petro addressed the current stalemate in Congress by defending his proposal on social network X (formerly known as Twitter). This follows his recent meeting with former President Álvaro Uribe and legislators from the Centro Democrático, Uribe's party and a leading opposition to the initiative.

Petro recounted his dialogue with the Centro Democrático: "Their first statement was that the Constitutional Court would completely overturn the law. I responded that, if so, it would be presented again as many times as necessary, incorporating the Court's feedback."

Objectives and Criticisms

The meeting with Uribe, who led Colombia from 2002 to 2010, focused on the health reform presented by the Executive last year. This reform aims to shift the public health system towards prevention and primary care, including remote regions lacking clinics and adequate medical services.

The initiative implies a significant reduction in the power and management role of Health Providing Entities (EPS), private companies that handle taxpayer funds to deliver health services. However, the bill has faced substantial criticism from government-allied parties like Alianza Verde, medical associations, and opponents. Critics argue that the reform is fiscally unviable and will deteriorate Colombians' healthcare services.

Call for Fiscal Viability Analysis

This week, the Colombian Association of Scientific Societies urged the Ministry of Finance to submit a comprehensive fiscal viability analysis of the health reform to Congress, citing transparency and the necessity for a well-informed, technically substantiated debate.

Dora Bernal, president of the Association, expressed concern that the Chamber representatives processing the bill need more essential information to properly evaluate the reform's advisability and fiscal sustainability.

Petro also highlighted a significant disagreement with the Centro Democrático, stating, "They want public health funds to continue being managed by private insurers or EPS." He criticized the EPS's historical performance, citing the bankruptcy of 157 EPS companies and a resulting debt of 23 trillion pesos (approximately 5.7 billion dollars), adversely affecting public and private hospital networks.

Advocacy for Preventive System

Petro advocated for the proposed preventive system, envisaging "primary care centers and medical teams that will permanently traverse every household in the country." He believes the opposition underestimates the value of this proposal, which, according to him, "would significantly reduce morbidity and illness in the country and substantially decrease health costs over the years."

Also read: Elections in Colombia 2023: the Disorder of Petrism vs the Inexperience of Duquism

"In preventive health lies the universal right to health for all people in Colombia," added Petro.

The progress of health reform has been slower than the government anticipated, with its proceedings repeatedly postponed due to a lack of quorum for debate or disagreements among legislators. Despite the political and logistical hurdles, Petro's unwavering stance reflects his dedication to transforming Colombia's healthcare system. As the debate continues, the reform's fate hangs in the balance, with the potential to profoundly impact the health and well-being of millions of Colombians.

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